Glasgow-born Robert Crombie Saunders studied at the University of Glasgow before embarking on a career as a schoolmaster and a writer. His literary work mainly relates to various aspects of Scottish life and culture. In 1944 he edited a selection of Hugh MacDiarmid's poems, which did much to restore MacDiarmid's reputation after the Second World War. Crombie Saunders's poem on the Clearances is well known, but his work in general has been published sparingly. The artist, William Crosbie, saw experimentation as an essential aspect of a painter’s development. His work, created over fifty years, is diverse in style and ranges from cubist to surrealist. Here, the bold use of colour and large brushstrokes give the portrait an almost expressionist character.